Camille Myers Breeze returns to the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies on September 22-24 to teach Textile Stabilization Using Sheer Overlays. Camille has been an instructor for the Campbell Center since 2012.
For more information about this workshop, please contact Camille Myers Breeze. Read about the other educational opportunities with Museum Textile Services in the Outreach section of our web page.
by Courtney Jason
When this WWI Army jacket came to Museum Textile Services, we did not know too much about it. According to the client, it had belonged to their grandfather, who was an Irish immigrant who enlisted to escape the orphanage he was living in. Beyond that, the rest was unclear. In the intervening weeks, much has come to light about Alexander G. McLean, his uniform, and his service in the Great War for Civilization.
McLean's WWI jacket before conservation.
McLean's army jacket is a 1917 pattern jacket, which is distin- guishable from the earlier 1912 pattern by a single line of stitching around the sleeve cuffs. Details like this can be found on the US Army's website in an extensive PDF by David Cole.
Recently the client returned with more items belonging to their grandfather. The buttons, pins, business cards, and books have inspired us to begin our research anew, and while we still do not know a lot about the life of Alexander McLean, we are developing a more complete picture. We know he joined the Army with the Yankee Division, and that he likely spent the majority of his time abroad fighting in France.
The first step of the project is to mount the jacket for display. It has been carefully vacuumed and an archival support pillow has been constructed. Next it will be mount it to a fabric-covered solid-support panel and covered with a UV filtering acrylic shadow box. When the jacket is complete, additional shadow boxes will be constructed for the other items.
While there are still a lot of unanswered questions, we are looking forward to learning more about the life of Alexander McLean. Be sure to check our Facebook page for updates as we continue to work on this project.
By Camille Myers Breeze
A new year means a new set of exciting projects here at MTS. On the top of our priority list is a contract for our most impressive digital textile printing project to date. We are undertaking the replication of a set of silk bed hangings, which were purchased by Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), son of John Quincy Adams, and his wife Abigail Brooks Adams (1808–1889). In the recent past, these luxurious textiles were deinstalled from the third floor of the Old House at the Adams National Historical Park due to their fragile condition.
In 1999, I was part of a team of textile professionals who published one of the first articles on the use of digitally printed textiles in
museums. Since then, much has changed in the fast-paced world of technology, including in the digital printing of textiles.
In the upcoming months, we will work with a digital printing company in the Boston area to reproduce yardage of a similar fabric using cotton, which can mimic the appearance of silk with much better preservation properties. The digitally printed fabric will then be assembled into a replica set of bed hangings and installed in the third floor bedroom where they were previously displayed.
Stay tuned for more blogs about this project as the work begins in January, 2013.
by Camille Myers Breeze
Our choice for favorite project from 2012 has to be the conservation of a baseball uniform belonging to the great Negro league player William "Cannonball" Jackman. As we learned from Sarah Berlinger's March 12th, 2012, blog Will "Cannonball" Jackman Comes to Life, he was perhaps the greatest player you've never heard of.
Prior to the completion of this project, Boston globe writer Joel Brown paid Museum Textile Services a visit to learn more about the project. His article, entitled "Preserving the Fabric of History," appeared in the April 19, 2012, issue of the Boston Globe North. Joel's article was a wonderful opportunity for us to let the public know about textile conservation and as a result we have seen a huge increase in the amount of sports memorabilia brought to MTS. In response, we launched a new Sports Memorabilia page in the Conservation section of our web page.
You can see some more images of the conservation of "Cannonball" Jackman's uniform in this short slideshow. Many thanks the Museum of African American History, Boston, and to all who worked on this project, including Cara, Courtney, Katey and Sarah.
By Cara Jordan
In a time before “A League of Their Own” there were the Boston Olympets. The Olympets, or “Pets” as they were known, were a professional women’s softball team who played ball inside the Boston Garden.
The Olympets were created by Boston Garden owner, Walter Brown, to draw crowds to the Garden during the summer “off season.” Starting in the late 1930’s until 1943 the Olympets did just that. As team member Mary Pratt recalls about playing ball inside Boston Garden, “They took the diamond and put it on a diagonal and they put a post down by first base and as a lefty you could quite readily hit into the stands, but that would only go for a single, but to hit it to left field was a long, long distance at the Garden.”
Olympets uniform top. MTS study collection.
The Olympets uniform consisted of red satin shorts, a white and blue uniform top with red, white, and blue lettering. The team name "Olympets" was spelled out across the front of the uniform top and the player’s number was positioned on the back. The letter “B” was also positioned on one of the sleeves. Players footwear consisted of leather laced sneakers. The team also had yellow satin jackets that they wore for away games. The jackets had blue ribbing at the waist and cuffs and the team nickname “PETS” was spelled out in blue lettering across the back.
Olympets away jacket. MTS study collection.
Many of the women from the Olympets went on to play in the AAGPBL, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, formed in 1943. Some of the teams that became part of the AAGPBL, such as the Racine Belles and Rockford Peaches, were portrayed in the film “A League of Their Own.” Several of the women featured in this film got their start as Boston Olympets.
Camille Breeze was fortunate enough to obtain four pieces of an Olympets uniform to add to the MTS study collection. We are now in possession of an away jacket with the number 6, a pair of red shorts with the number 6, a pair of red shorts with no number, and a jersey with the number 14. According to the seller, Martha Stickney, the uniform belonged to Virginia MacCarthy of Wakefield, Massachusetts. A photograph of Virginia is known to exist. Martha, who graduated from Wakefield High School in 1981, had made some baseball history of her own by being the first girl to play on the boy's baseball team.
Hopefully, further research will shed light on who Virginia McCarthy was and when she played for the Boston Olympets.